I’ve already shared my thoughts on how being able to listen to any radio station in the world on my home stereo and what a marvellous discovery it was for me… but, what about when I’m in the car or on the go. Here’s where to get the best radio apps on android and iphone.
How can I listen to my favourite radio stations on the go?
Every major radio station will have it’s own app, but if you like to chop and change and discover new stations, there are enough apps that incorporate thousands of stations to save you the hassle of having an app for each of your favourite radio stations.
What are the best radio apps on android or iphone?
TuneIn – 1 million downloads can’t be wrong. Unanimously one of the best radio apps on android. Not only can you listen into any radio station, but a lot of podcasts are also linked to the service meaning you you don’t have to download them to your phone anymore.
I suggest setting up a profile – you can do it online at tunein.com, select your favourite stations and podcasts. Once you’ve downloaded the app, log in with your profile and this will give you a constantly updated timeline of whats on now and what’s new.
I haven’t failed to find any station on it yet, it’s got everything from commercial to internet radio covered. However If you can’t find one, there is a custom url feature. So, you can just link to a specific radio stream and it will add to your favourites. (listenlive.eu is a great site for finding url links to radio streams). Car mode is also a nice feature on the app, as it allows you to jump between stations without too much messing.
My only gripe, is that one of my favourite stations BBC 6 Music constantly drops for me when listening through the app… although it’s most likely a problem with my own network. Another negative may be that it’s quite a large app to have installed if your phone has limited storage.
There’s certainly room for improvement but overall TuneIn is the best out there. There is a paid version the main benefits are no ads and access to audiobooks. I’ve never found the need to go for it.
The app storage size varies from device to device but it’s a considerably large at 41 MB on my android phone.
Alternatives to TuneIn
There are a few alternatives to TuneIn worth mentioning, especially if you’re looking for something more friendly to your storage.
Simple Radio – a little lighter on storage Simple Radio, takes up around 21 MB on my android, the stations available seem to be very random, it has a lot of the major stations but is missing others. For example it only has some of the BBC stations, many are missing. Simple interface and it runs quite well, still one of the best radio apps on android for performance, but unless your sure it has your favorites, I’d rather make room for TuneIn.
Internet Radio (by PCRadio) – A decent selection, particularly of UK radio stations, all of which are arranged by genre so better for discovering new radio stations. However I found the interface really annoying to navigate and the biggest negative of all for me is no feature to set your favourite stations, you’ll have to go find them every time you open the app. It has a record feature on paid version, if TuneIn had something similar, I’d pay for it. It the smallest app of all the ones I have chosen, taking up only 7 MB.
There are other good apps if you like sticking to specific countries, and also becoming popular now are the apps that don’t actually link to radio stations, but instead learn your taste in music and play a random selection accordingly… no presenters required!
How much data does radio streaming use?
Streaming radio will never eat up as much data as music streaming services like spotify, as the feeds that radio stations put out are lower quality and bit rate than music streaming.
I decided to switch to a 15GB limit of 3G some time back, but its definitely not essential for light to moderate amounts of streaming. Driving to and from work everyday (40min-60min journey each way) and maybe an hour or 2 at the weekends, is generally when I stream radio on my phone. I’d estimate I hit roughly 1.4 – 1.6 GB of data in 1 month from radio streaming.
Best radio apps on android and iphone – a summary…
As the radio landscape continues to change, it’s becoming easier and easier to not be limited to your local FM / AM stations, no matter where you are. This was barely imaginable 15 years ago, but phones are getting better, Wi-fi is becoming more widely available and mobile internet is getting faster and cheaper. It’s great to be able to listen to an endless supply of radio and podcasts on the go, get involved!
It’s a 1 horse race for me, TuneIn is easily the best radio app on android, but if I’m wrong be sure to share your thoughts below.
UPDATE: interesting recent news on how Microsoft are no longer providing FM apps on their smartphones. I think this is another sign that things are changing for the way we listen to radio as mobile networks continue to improve there is less and less need to stick to your local radio stations.